Saturday 16th November 2019

FAMILY LETTERS & DIARIES

Morning MURCH ROOM : VERONA BASS, AMA BOLTON, MIRANDA PENDER
Afternoon ELWIN ROOM : VERONA BASS, AMA BOLTON, SUE BOYLE, ANN CULLIS, PENNY GARDINER, MIRANDA PENDER, JANET SNOWDEN
£195 paid

All subscribers are now invited to send in their requests and suggestions for this Day.

VERONA BASS : Letters and Diaries talk

AMA BOLTON : I have a couple of possible subjects. One is a grandmother, born in Russia, raised in Surbiton, emigrated 1922 to Canada with two very young children and ex-army husband who abandoned her and turned up 40 years later, by which time she was living in Italy and wanted nothing to do with him.

On the other side of the family is a grandfather from Devon who repurposed a “Field Message Book” as a sketchbook in Normandy during the First World war. Later he was a successful architect and in his spare time made violins and painted in watercolour.

For both I have photos, letters and other documents.

SUE BOYLE : Letters and photographs from an uncle who was killed flying air sea rescue in North Africa during the Second World War.  These begin with his training in Devon, cover his long journey down the coast of Africa for further training, and then his time based in the desert outside Tripoli.  The photographs were returned to the family, with a few exisions, after he was killed.  The letters were saved by my grandfather and passed down eventually to me.  This will be the first time they will be transcribed and shared.

ANN CULLIS : A wealth of material which could be used.

  • One short letter from a great-uncle in WW1 writing home from battlefield, he was a clergyman and writes just after Easter about improvising holy communion on Easter Sunday in a barn in a field.  Even if one is not religious, it is very moving.
  • Two letters from my great-grandfather whilst POW in Turkey in WW1.  They are very focussed on practicalities of what his wife should send in her parcels, and the weather in Turkey; but also have snippets of touching sentiment, as when he encloses a pressed rose and hopes it will get past the censors.Also the story of his bank passbook which was found on the battlefield in Egypt (a few days after they were taken POW) by an Anzac soldier who posted it back to the bank in Worcester with a lovely covering letter (he hopes the owner has survived the battle and will come home to enjoy the bank balance which is due in his favour!)  My great-grandfather did return home, and reclaimed it.
  • Letters my Dad wrote home when he was serving in northern India in 1945-47 – I’ve barely started looking at these yet, but they will be full of factual detail, not emotions (because my dad was like that).
  • The replies which my grandfather (his father) wrote to him, which really bring out my grandfather’s personality and sense of humour.  They’re very informal; he ran the family business and they often seem to be written in the office (for example – paraphrased from memory – “infernally hot day, supposed to be doing the invoices; I wish I could find that I have a mystery relative in China who has left me all their money, I’d be out of this office faster than you could see me; your mother is at choir practice this evening – I plan to go down to the club for an ale or two and watch the cricket”)
  • A few letters from my great-grandmother (Dad’s gran) in reply to letters he wrote to her from India.
  • Letters my uncle Arthur wrote home while training in the RAF; much of his training took place in the US and Canada.  He was killed on a training flight in 1942 aged 22.  I haven’t started looking at these yet.

 

PENNY GARDINER :

JANET SNOWDEN :